More than 560,000 people had coronavirus in England last week with the number of infections rising steeply among secondary school children, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest.
The figures also appear to show around one in 100 people had COVID-19 in England for the week between 17 and 23 October, as the number of cases continues to rise across the UK.
New coronavirus cases increased by around 51,900 in England each day last week, according to ONS estimates.
This is up 47% from 35,200 new cases per day for the period from 10 to 16 October.
The ONS Infection Survey estimated 568,100 people had COVID-19 in England between 17 to 23 October, up from 433,300 the week before.
The numbers also show there has been an increase in cases in all age groups over the past two weeks, with older teenagers and young adults having the highest current rates.
Rates appear to be steeply increasing among secondary school children.
The figures, based on 609,777 swab tests taken whether people have symptoms or not, do not include anyone staying in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings.
The highest COVID-19 infection rates in England continue to be seen in the North West, and Yorkshire and The Humber.
Rates also remain high for the North East but have now levelled off and there is now a larger gap with the other two northern regions.
The lowest rates are in the South East, South West and eastern England, while there has been growth in all age groups over the past two weeks.
Katherine Kent, co-head of analysis for the COVID-19 infection survey, said: “Following the expansion of ONS infection survey, we are now seeing evidence of increases in COVID-19 infections across the UK.
“In England, infections have continued to rise steeply, with increases in all regions apart from in the North East, where infections appear to have now levelled off.
“Wales and Northern Ireland have also all seen increased infections, though it is currently too early to see a certain trend in Scotland, where we have been testing for a shorter period.
“When looking at infections across different age groups, rates now seem to be steeply increasing among secondary school children whilst older teenagers and young adults continue to have the highest levels of infection.”
Analysis: Figures offer ‘glimmers of optimism’ but we are heading in the wrong direction
By Rowland Manthorpe, technology correspondent
The ONS survey is perhaps the most reliable estimate we have of the state of the pandemic in the UK, and the picture it paints of rising infections across the UK is concerning.
There is some regional difference between the four nations of the UK.
But even in Scotland, the country where the virus is spreading the slowest, the ONS estimates that 1 in 140 people have the virus.
A month ago, the ONS estimated that 1 in 500 people in England had the virus. That shows startling progress.
Yet for seasoned watchers of these figures, there are some glimmers of optimism.
The ONS estimates that around 50,000 people a day are catching the virus, almost half as few as the REACT survey by Imperial College estimated yesterday.
Imperial College put the doubling rate – a crucial estimate of the speed of the growth of the outbreak – at nine days.
The ONS data would suggest that the numbers of infections are doubling every 14 days.
To put this in context: at the peak of the outbreak, the doubling rate was as high as three days.
That was what accounted for the frankly terrifying growth of March.
Based on this data, we are not back at that point again, but we are heading in the wrong direction.